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Rare African birds find Winter sun on Midland bogs

Thursday, 25 January 2018

THREE Glossy Ibis, a rare bird usually found in North Africa, have taken up residence on a bog in Co Westmeath just days after another Ibis was spotted at a bog in Co Offaly.

A number of other sightings of rare birds on Irish bogs in the past few weeks have piqued the interest of ecologists and birdwatchers across Ireland.

Bord na M na ecologist Dr Mark McCorry said We are used to the occasional rare bird sighting but to get three Glossy Ibis in Bunihinly bog in Co Westmeath is very exciting.

It follows sightings in the last week of another very rare Glossy Ibis at Lough Boora Discovery Park in Offaly and a Whitetailed Eagle on a bog in Co Roscommon.

"It is all very interesting to watch. The Whitetailed Eagle is a truly magnificent bird that was reintroduced in Co Kerry a few years ago but has so far been rarely seen out in the Midlands bogs so we were delighted to see it last week. The Glossy Ibis is a very beautiful species from Africa.

The next few years will tell if the Glossy Ibis is, in fact, becoming established here. Another wetland species, the little Egret, bred for the first time in Ireland in 1997. Since then the species has become more widespread and is found across most counties of Ireland.

"Irish wetlands, especially locations like Lough Boora Discovery Park, are amazing locations to view rare species. When a species like the Glossy Ibis is blown off course and finds itself in Ireland it will naturally choose a good wetland as a place to stay.

We are not surprised it chose a rich wetland location like our wet bogs or Lough Boora .

The Glossy Ibis is considered rare in Ireland. The UK based RSPB reported the first ever Glossy Ibis pair breeding in the UK in 2014, there has been an increase in sightings of the species in the UK since.

Up to now, they have been resident and breeding species in Southern Europe and Africa. One theory as to why they are being spotted more often in Northern countries is due to climate change drier conditions in France, Spain and Portugal pushing them northwards.

How to recognise a Glossy Ibis.

Ibis are cousins of the spoonbills, storks and herons. In Ireland, it may be confused with the curlew which is a wader, one of the sandpiper family.

Both species frequent similar marshy places but the curlew is smaller and its plumage is brown. The ibis is a dark brownish-purple. "Glossy" refers to the greenish wing feathers, iridescent like those of a mallard's head.

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